Many people around the Flyers community are questioning whether Steve Mason is still our starter. Publicly the organization itself says it is not questioning anything. Mason has consistently been backed as the starter but when you really look at the numbers, it is clear that we do not have a solid #1 #2 situation. Between our goalies only 80 minutes of ice time separates the two and with Mason being the starter at the beginning of the season that is a very small gap.
Let’s compare our two starting goalies.
Neuvirth came to us knowing he was going to be a backup, but also believing he could showcase enough to secure a future as a starter in this league. This season he has 14 starts, a GAA of 2.06 a SV% of .937 and a record of 8-4-2. Those are pretty solid numbers backing a team that is not considered a playoff contender. Neuvie is well on his way to proving that he is a starter in this league.
Mason has played pretty well for us in the past and extending him was not a questionable move. However Mason has some shaky starts this season and a couple of questionable goals. It’s clear that this is not the Mason from last season and he’s definitely playing under what he’s truly capable of The fans have been quick to turn on him and call for Neuvie after the inconsistencies continued to add up. This season he has 17 starts, a GAA of 2.93, a SV% of .905 and a record of 5-8-4. These are the numbers of not only a back-up, but a back-up not having a great season.
So why are we continuing to give Mason starts in a non back-up situation? There are many reasons. Most of which at this point we can only speculate on. Perhaps he has not been quite right, and the coach feels that downgrading him to back-up could do serious damage to his confidence and set him back further than he has. With a team not exactly in a win-now mode you can’t help but think eyeing the future is at play.
Another solid reason is that perhaps they do not think Neuvirth is ready for a full work load now. Maybe he is performing well at his current pace and splitting the time, and that they believe pushing him may have unintended consequences. We will hear from fans on both sides, no doubt, but really only the coach knows what is best, and it might in our best interest to trust his decision-making now. He is also in his first year in the NHL and maybe he is using this time to really put evaluation on the two of them, and getting near equal time from the two of them is the best way to look to the future.
But for now folks, sit back and enjoy our Goalie Carousel.
Let’s Go Flyers!